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Elon Musk hits out at Apple – and claims tech giant threatened to block Twitter from App Store

New Twitter owner Elon Musk has hit out at Apple – claiming it has threatened to block his social network from its app store without explanation.

The world’s richest man, who took the company private last month for $44bn (£36.7bn), also said the iPhone maker has “mostly stopped advertising” on his platform.

Musk wrote in a tweet: “Do they hate free speech in America?”

And he also said in a message that tagged Apple‘s chief executive Tim Cook: “What’s going on here?”

Apple was Twitter’s biggest advertiser in the first quarter of this year – spending $48m (£40m) on ads on the social network.

This accounted for 4% of the company’s revenue in that period, the Washington Post reported, citing an internal Twitter document.

The world’s most valuable firm spent an estimated $131,600 (£110,000) on Twitter ads between 10 and 16 November – down from $220,800 (£184,000) between 16 and 22 October, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

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If the company was to block Twitter from its app store, new users would not be able to download the Twitter app on their iPhones and iPads, and existing users would be unable to access updates.

Among the list of grievances tweeted by Musk was the 30% fee that Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases, with Musk posting a meme suggesting he was willing to “go to war” with the tech giant rather than paying the commission.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment following Musk’s outspoken comments.

The commission fee could affect his attempts to increase subscription revenue at Twitter, in part to make up for the exodus of advertisers over content moderation concerns.

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Musk earlier this month said his company had seen a “massive” drop in revenue.

Companies including food firm General Mills and car maker Audi of America have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook
Image:
Apple chief executive Tim Cook

Musk has laid off thousands of workers, with cuts expected to have a significant impact on content moderation.

The billionaire boss of Twitter and Tesla claimed Apple was pressuring Twitter over moderation demands.

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The alleged action, not confirmed by Apple, wouldn’t be unusual as the company has routinely enforced its rules and previously removed apps such as Parler.

Parler, which is popular with US conservatives, was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices.

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